Gil Merrick

Mr Birmingham City: the gentleman goalkeeper and legend

Player Biography
Full name: Gilbert Harold Merrick
Date of birth: January 26, 1922
Date of death: February 3, 2010
Clubs played for: Birmingham
Clubs managed: Birmingham
Gil Merrick
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Club Career

Gil Merrick signed professional terms with Birmingham in 1939, aged 17, and he remained at St Andrews as a player and manager for the next 25 years.

Considered one of the best goalkeepers in the UK during the 1950s, he played more than 700 times for the Blues before hanging up his gloves in 1960 and moving into the manager's chair at the club.

Club Stats

Years Clubs App Goals
1939-60 Birmingham 551 0

International Career

Merrick played 23 times for England after making his debut against Ireland in November 1951. He helped them reach the 1954 World Cup quarter-finals in Switzerland before bowing out of international football at the end of that tournament.

International Career Stats

Years Clubs App Goals
1951-54 England 23 0

Managerial Career

Merrick was in charge of the club for four years, leading them to their only major trophy - the League Cup in 1963 - before leaving a year later with the club struggling in the league. 'Mr Birmingham City' later had spells in charge of non-league Bromsgrove Rovers and Atherstone Town before ending his involvement with football for good in the early 1970s.

Key Games

England 3-6 Hungary (International friendly, November 25, 1953)

England surrendered a 90-year unbeaten record as they lost on home soil to continental opposition for the first time. Merrick was the last line of defence for the hosts but he was powerless to stop the 'Magical Magyars', inspired by the wonderful Ferenc Puskas, who won 6-3. Despite the defeat, Merrick later said: "It was a day to remember. Their football was simply too good for us. It was a privilege to be done by them."

Manchester City 3-1 Birmingham (FA Cup final, May 5, 1956)

Only the second FA Cup final in Birmingham's history - the first was in 1931 - and once more they were runners-up, losing 3-1 to Manchester City. The match will forever be remembered as the game in which City goalkeeper Bert Trautmann broke his neck and carried on playing and, at the end, his beaten opposite number, Merrick, walked half the length of the field to support the dazed and confused Trautmann on his way to receive his winners' medal.

Birmingham 3-1 Aston Villa (League Cup final 1st leg, April 23, 1963)

Having come so close to winning Birmingham's first major honour as a player in the 1956 FA Cup final, Merrick the manager went one better seven years later in the League Cup. And, to make the victory all the sweeter, they did so at the expense of Aston Villa in the two-legged final. Two goals from Ken Leek and one from Jimmy Bloomfield secured a 3-1 win in the first leg at St Andrews and they successfully defended that advantage at Villa Park four days later, drawing 0-0, to take the trophy.

Honours

Club Competition Year
Birmingham Second Division Championship 1947-48, 1954-55
Birmingham (as manager) League Cup 1963

Did You Know...?

Birmingham renamed the Railway Stand at St Andrews the Gil Merrick Stand at the start of the 2009-10 season.

Although he spent his entire playing career at Birmingham, Solihull-born Merrick was a self-confessed Aston Villa fan.

Merrick was spotted by Birmingham while playing in a trial match for Solihull Town. Blues scout Walter Taylor was at the match and followed Merrick up the road afterwards and convinced him to sign for the club.

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From the back pages

Austria 2-3 England Published: May 26, 1952

International match report

England 3-6 Hungary Published: November 26, 1953

International match report

Manchester City 3-1 Birmingham Published: May 7, 1956

FA Cup final report

Birmingham 6-1 Newcastle Published: September 6, 1956

First Division match report

Birmingham 3-1 Aston Villa Published: May 24, 1963

League Cup final 1st leg match report

Aston Villa 0-0 Birmingham Published: May 28, 1963

League Cup final 2nd leg match report

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